Before folded greeting cards were produced, Americans sent Thanksgiving postcards to friends and family. These are often rich in humor and illustrate the traditions of this holiday. They often are patriotic including Uncle Sam and other national symbols as part of the theme.
The date of the modern American observance of Thanksgiving can be traced back to Abraham Lincoln's proclamation during the middle of the Civil War, setting the date on the final Thursday in the month of November. His successors continued the custom by presidential proclamation until Franklin Roosevelt broke with tradition during the Depression by declaring the fourth Thursday in November as the national celebration in effort to boost retail sales during the Christmas season. He hoped the increased spending would bring the country out the Depression. In 1941 President Roosevelt signed a bill making the national celebration of this holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.
Today's customs loosely follow the celebration meal in 1621 held by the Wampanoag Tribe of American Indians and the Pilgrims who settled in Plymouth MA. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner features turkey, potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberries, corn and other fall vegetables and pumpkin pie.
Even before the advent of television, football has played a large part of the tradition in many families. Since its inception, the National Football league has played a game on Thanksgiving day. Colleges and universities and high schools traditionally scheduled rivalry games. Macy's Department store holds an annual Thanksgiving Day parade on the upper west side of New York City to the flagship store on Herald Square.
However Americans celebrate the holiday it is seen as a homecoming or coming together to enjoy the fruits of the abundant harvest usually preceded by a prayer of thanksgiving.
I am sharing some of the postcards I have listed - you can find some of them in my eBay store here: Moody Mommy's Thanksgiving Postcards .